This lesson can be found here.

There’s a few different ways you can approach this lesson, depending on who you teach it to.  If it’s to the Deacons, this would be a good way to introduce them to not only the additional responsibilities they will have in the Aaronic Priesthood, but a good time to emphasize that you don’t regress in your responsibilities.  From what I’ve heard, when the Quorum of the 12 meet on Thursdays in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple with some of the other General Authorities, they pass the sacrament to each other (about halfway through the talk).

For current Teachers, this could be a chance to go over their responsibilities again.  How many of the young men know their “main” responsibility involving the sacrament, but aren’t aware of some of the smaller things?

For current Priests, this could be a chance to review both the Deacon and Teacher responsibilities, and, like above, remind them that they will never be exempt from that responsibility if the call to serve comes.  A great example is serving a mission in a developing area of the church.  When I was in Korea, we blessed/passed the sacrament every week, because there weren’t enough youth.

While the story is good, it’s a bit corny.  The farm stories that are found everywhere within the YM manuals might work in farm-country like Utah/Idaho, but everywhere else it’s kind of foreign.  I think the scripture, however, brings up a good point.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:99–100.

99 Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.

100 He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.

This is something that the boys will need to know for the rest of their life.  Not the slothful not being counted worthy, but learning his duty, and acting in his office.  How can you act in your office as a profitable servant if you don’t know your duty?

What are the Duties of a Teacher?

Doctrine and Covenants 20:53–59.

53 The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them;

54 And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking;

55 And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.

56 And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest—

57 And is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the deacons, if occasion requires.

58 But neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, or lay on hands;

59 They are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ.

What does this mean?  Obviously, the Teachers are supposed to watch over the church.  The problem with this scripture is that it doesn’t always translate over to what our teachers do today.  Do our teachers really watch over the church and make sure there’s no gossip?  Do we make sure all members “do their duty?”  While teachers presiding over meetings are extremely rare, they do follow the priesthood order of presiding.

Random Brandt Question:

When did the fundamental shift come?  This seems like a mighty responsibility?  It would be nice to get some additional insight into what specifically verses 53-55 mean.  As a matter of fact, many of the responsibilities of Teachers aren’t found in this section of the D&C, but in the manual.

How many in a Teachers Quorum?

Doctrine and Covenants, Section 107:86

I’ve never been in a ward where they’ve had to split the teacher’s quorum, but I have been in 2 wards where they split the Elder’s Quorum.  It’s a logistical thing, in my opinion.  It makes it easier to know the needs of the quorum.

Here is the official “Duties of a Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood.”  I’ll add my comments in Bold.

Duties of a Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood

The teacher is a standing minister appointed to “watch over the Church” in the ward “and be with and strengthen them” (D&C 20:53; 84:111). He does this by performing certain duties under proper priesthood direction. A teacher has all of the duties of a deacon and some additional duties. The duties of a teacher include the following responsibilities:

  • a. Follow the counsel and instruction of priesthood leaders.
    • Naturally.  Doesn’t everyone?
  • b. Prepare the sacrament.
    • This is their responsibility, including making sure the bread is there (and on time, and fresh, and not moldy, and not frozen, and not falling apart because it’s been in the freezer for a year).  They also prepare the water, get the cloth covering ready, and clean up afterwards.  However, the eating of the bread after the sacrament is negotiable.  I’ve heard 2 sides to that argument, so I’ll leave that one up to the bishop’s discretion.
  • c. “Warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (D&C 20:59) and “see that the church meet together often, and … that all the members do their duty” (D&C 20:55) by doing such things as—
    • 1) Performing home teaching.
      • Yes, every teacher should be home teaching.  Get this pattern started early, and hopefully with strong home teaching companions.  Because at some point, they will be on their own, doing what they saw their home teaching companion do.
    • 2) Notifying members of meetings.
      • I really haven’t seen this.  I guess if there’s something important going on, they can be called upon to do that.  And I guess they can be asked to call members who haven’t been at church in a while and invite them to church.  But it’s not something I’ve seen practiced much.
    • 3) Speaking in Church meetings.
      • Is this entirely a Teacher’s responsibility?  Don’t Deacons get called to speak in church?  Isn’t that the responsibility of the ward?
  • d. “See that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking” (D&C 20:54) by doing such things as—
    • 1) Being an example of moral integrity and uprightness.
      • Yes.  This makes more sense.
    • 2) Being a peacemaker and a calming influence.
      • Yes.  Again, makes more sense rather than being a snoop or spy on what’s going on in the ward.
  • e. Edify and be edified by fellow priesthood holders by participating in priesthood instruction (see D&C 50:22).
    • This instruction could be within the quorum or with the priesthood body as a whole.
  • f. Assist the bishop in “administering … temporal things” (D&C 107:68) by doing such things as—
    • 1) Helping the poor and needy.
      • Through service, Bishop’s storehouse, or other necessary things.
    • 2) Caring for the meetinghouse and grounds.
      • Again, this is something that is done by everyone now.  But I think it would be worthwhile to discuss with the Teachers about their responsibility for the grounds.  The meaning of this is if you see something out of place, pick it up.
  • g. Perform priesthood work, such as assisting in fellowshipping and reactivating young men of priesthood age, and serving on priesthood committees.
    • Naturally, this is part of being within the quorum.
  • h. Usher reverently in stake conferences and ward meetings.
    • Probably the second responsibility that many people see teachers doing.  I didn’t know it was their responsibility on a stake level as well, but I guess that would come under the discretion of the Stake President, or presiding authority.
  • i. Assist the bishopric in other ways consistent with the teacher’s authority.
    • Which goes along with all offices of the Aaronic Priesthood.

(From Aaronic Priesthood Leadership Handbook, pp. 2–3.)

This is a good lesson.  I know that I’ve been working more on training the boys to understand the logistics of the church. It’s part of building the leaders of the church.  Inform them of their responsibilities, and let them go and do it.  Teach them correct principles, and let them govern themselves.  These literally are the future leaders of the church.  And while the discussions and lessons on gospel topics serve a purpose, let us not forget that the church can be a complex organization.  For example, last week my Deacons and I had a discussion on passing the sacrament.  Its one thing that they knew the presiding authority got the sacrament first.  That’s just a “thing.”  Like July 4th being Independence Day.  But to put some meaning behind it by using the example we had that morning with the stake president attending sacrament, and discussion the details of how we do the sacrament and why we do what we do (all out of service).  And I don’t know if my boys are exceptions to the rule (I think they are just normal boys), but thye like being challenged.  They like having the responsibility on their shoulders.  They rise to the occasion.  And it’s all because our ward has done an exceptional job cultivating leaders from the boys, and having them lead.

Additional Resources:

Aaronic Priesthood – Powers and Offices from LightPlanet
Teacher, Aaronic Priesthood from Encyclopedia of Mormonism
On Aaronic Priesthood Quorums, a talk by D. Calvin Andrus in the Warrenton, VA Stake Priesthood Leadership Meeting